It seems like a very mundane topic to talk about politics when you are excited about getting married, but it can become a serious problem in marriage if you do not plan for it. The problem is tribalism. Throughout the history of mankind, friction between people’s beliefs have caused everything from wars, horrible levels of cruelty, bitter arguments, and more. This can, but does not always, include spouses. Political differences in the United States have become increasingly a source of friction and conflict, and the same can happen in a marriage when the husband and wife have different political opinions. The reason this is an appropriate topic for discussion is a simple one. It is important to develop a plan for dealing with political differences.
Evolution has played a very dirty trick on people. For hundreds of thousands of years, developing a tribal affiliation was important to survival. A tribal affiliation included sharing beliefs- leading tribes to a “us” versus “them” mentality. Some of those differences throughout history have been religious, but in more recent times, those differences have become strongly felt political beliefs. In Europe, there was literally a hundred years war between the Roman Catholic Tribe and the Protestant Tribe. In modern times in the United States, the tribes are called Democrats and Republicans.
Within each tribe, there are dogmas. For example, if you are a Democrat, you are pro-abortion, and if you are a Republican, you are pro-life. If you are a Democrat, you are pro-union, and if you are a Republican, you are opposed to unions, whether in the private or the public sector (e.g., teachers). If you are a Democrat, you are opposed to Charter Schools, but if you are a Republican, you are for Charter Schools. On and on it goes.
The trick of evolution is that while tribes differ in beliefs, they might both be right and likely have much to learn from one another. Rarely, neither side of any of issue is fully right or fully wrong.
What does this mean for marriage? When political differences come up in the marriage, each spouse should plan to have a fair hearing on the issue and agree to a goal of understanding how both of you might be right. This goes to the heart of two of the principles of a successful marriage:
- Two people can disagree, both can be right, learn from one another, sometimes come to an agreement on whatever the issue is, but sometimes just respectfully disagree.
- The key is in accepting that two people can be right, but disagree.
Political differences reflect different fundamental visions of human nature and, as a result, how to organize society. The goal is not to change each other’s opinions. The goal is to respect each other’s opinions and understand the values and goals from which they come.
We rap things up in this series in Blog 7. Be sure to read it.